Ho Ho Ho! Santa and Companions in Courage Visit Hospitalized Kids via Video
A few years ago, I had the privilege to participate in a wonderful program I’ll never forget.
The Cisco Santa Connection enables children who are unable to leave the hospital for the festive holiday period to share in some of the Christmas spirit. Using video collaboration technology, the children can visit with Santa and share their Christmas wishes with him. Santa comes down from the North Pole and visits the Cisco headquarters to help make this happen.
Volunteers who are either in person with Santa or at the participating hospitals work as quick communicators, gathering information about the children such as names and ages, from the parents and caregivers. Santa is then able to have a warm, personal conversation with each child. I got a huge chuckle when one of the kids asked Santa, “How do you know everything about me?” A coworker of mine, Mark Leff, saw a parent of a bone marrow patient hug one of the volunteers after their child’s spirits had been lifted tremendously by talking with Santa.
Companions in Courage works with the Cisco WebEx team to make this happen each year. The Companions in Courage Foundation was originally founded by former NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine in 1997. Mr. LaFontaine started opening “Lion’s Dens” in hospitals as part of this program, and many of the Santa Connection visits take places in these wonderful rooms.
This year, Santa was able to visit with 32 children ranging in age from 2-15. The program brought Santa to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY; Roswell Park in Buffalo, NY; Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL, Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, NY; Huntington Hospital in Huntingron, NY; and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York.
As we head into the holidays, I highly encourage you to explore this program more thoroughly. I don’t think there are many more things in life that are better than an expression of delight on a child’s face, and this program delivers this unfailingly.
by LeAnne Schrotzberger, public relations manager, Cisco Corporate Relations